The Coaching Habit

Michael Bungay Stanier’s book The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More, and Change the Way You Lead Forever is a great read. In it, the author combines high-level management concepts with clear guidelines on how to transition from old habits to new, more effective ones.

The author names some common bad habits such as, “The Advice Monster.” That’s the monster that takes over when your urge to give advice is triggered. The argument for resisting the advice monster is that your direct reports are more likely to feel empowered and to grow if you coach them to navigate problems on their own rather than teach them to depend on you for all of the answers.

Stanier offers a set of seven questions that help you coach your direct reports:

  1. The Kickstart Question: What’s on your mind?
  2. The AWE Question: And What Else?
  3. The Focus Question: What’s the real challenge here for you?
  4. The Foundation Question: What do you want?
  5. The Lazy Question: How can I help?
  6. The Strategic Question: If you’re saying “yes” to this, what are you saying “no” to?
  7. The Learning Question: What was most useful for you?

The rationale for the exact wording of each question is explained beautifully in the book. I highly recommend it.